STORYTELLING, GROUP HEALING & THE POWER OF NATURE
by Dr. Tanvi Gandhi, ND. LAc.
Have you struggled to find healing through modern day medicine? If you have, you’ve probably noticed that it is very formulaic - treating symptoms instead of root causes with intentional distance between patients and their doctors. This practice often overlooks self-healing, self-empowerment, and self-care possibilities. Yet there is an awakening to other more connected and self-empowering possibilities. One of the ways to create the bridge is an ancient healing approach called Narrative Medicine or storytelling which is particularly powerful.
This approach, taught at Columbia University since 2000, connects back to Ancient Yogic and Shamanic Medicine traditions. Narrative Medicine is about the full recognition of specific psychological and patient personal history to rehumanize medicine. It treats patients as humans with individual stories, rather than purely based on symptoms. Shamanism existed before any organized religious and spiritual practices. Shamanic journeying (or Yogic Quest) is about rediscovering self through storytelling, ceremonial healing, rituals and more.
Let me take you on a journey through a few of my favorite types of alternative medicines and healing practices, especially if this is all new to you.
Narrative Medicine or Storytelling
Like many Alternative Medicine approaches, Narrative Medicine seeks to bring our bodies and minds back into balance and can be integrated into Holistic Therapies in many ways. Healers stand with you in the glare of your fears around your illness. This helps create clearings for healing as well as acceptance of your circumstances and a needed sense of connection – incredibly helpful given the negative impact on our hearts, souls, and physical bodies when facing any kind of disease.
I encourage my clients to practice storytelling about one’s life, trauma and health challenges during our holistic treatment sessions and various kinds of therapies. Some of the ways that I practice is using Meditative Acupuncture and Moxibustion together, Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy mixed with Shamanic Plant-Spirit Guided Ceremonies, occasionally I’ll incorporate Craniosacral Therapy with Ayurvedic Marma Therapy, or Japanese Reiki with traditional Chinese Medicine which can be quite helpful too. There is more than one way to help you access your healing if you are looking to try something new as an alternative. You might even find a practitioner near you who will add a nutrition or lifestyle approach to their therapies as well.
Acupuncture coupled with storytelling (about trauma) combined with meditation, moxibustion, pranayama and healing touch - artfully incorporated into one session - can be ideal for helping to reduce stress and find a calmness in our hearts and minds. Human touch is also so critical to the healing process. The integration of these practices in succession with another helps bring deep peace and relaxation to you personally, and through each individual session.
Did you know that healing can also be supported with collective energy in a group setting? This is known as the field energy effect. People help each other by sharing narratives that others can relate to, providing additional clearings and space for healing. In Shamanism and Yogic traditions, meditations and group healing can support the story or change, deep rooted patterns and habits just by setting your intentions. This is known as Sankalpa or the power of will. Intention and visualization, which modern science confirms as neuroplasticity ability of neurons, helps with regeneration or shifting of brain pathways, and the creation of new patterns, and new stories of wellness, health and wholeness of the mind, body and spirit.
The group’s emotional and creative intelligence is higher and more powerful than any one individual. This concept is also displayed in nature via quorum (community) sensing in microbiome. The technologies of the future, like blockchain, are also using this concept which is fascinating! This has been the inspiration to many models of sustainable acupuncture and meditation to help bring a community together with the common intentions of collective healing, cultivating peace, and harnessing abundance through the power of group energy fields. Even in my own Sri Wellness space, we have witnessed the group field effect and how it promotes abundance, gratitude, compassion, coherence and inner peace.
The Healing Power of Nature
Another great way to heal is by syncing with nature. Have you often felt like you instantly feel better after you’ve been outside in nature? There’s a reason for that! When we synch with nature, we can harness cosmic, vital energy known as Prana, Qi, Ki and Chu’lel. This can help to support energetic shifts, as well as help to open and clear us for healing. Ancient cultures embraced this transition from summer to fall as a time of harvesting the great abundance, gathering motivation for releasing what does not serve anymore and welcome new beginnings. This week, especially with Fall Equinox on September 22nd, is powerful time to connect with changing seasons, and welcome the beautiful season of Autumn with a nature walk, nature ceremony or joining a group healing circle. Another thing to celebrate on 9/21, is the U.N. International Day of Peace which is observed around the world each year to help strengthen the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and people.
Plant Spirit Medicine
You might have heard that there are spiritual and medicinal benefits to chocolate. Mayan Shamans connected with Cacao as a powerful heart chakra opener since ancient times in their culture. As a Cacao Medicine Facilitator, I have held space and witnessed powerful effects of cacao ceremonies over time. I am trained with Heart-blood cacao to facilitate modern Cacao Ceremonies that integrate meditation, process work, chanting and journaling to facilitate the healing from trauma, old patterns, memories, etc.
Due to the euphoria inducing ingredients of Cacao medicine and the communal field energy affect, the emotional impact can be quite profound. We feel heightened within the physical and emotional body, including awareness to the sense of self and to the heart. Pleasure hormones are released and nutrients in the Cacao support and nourish the body as well, inducing a detoxifying effect on the liver and kidneys.
There are some other well-known plant-spirit healing allies such as Mugwort (Artemisia), Tulsi (Holy Basil), Rose and Matcha. You might find that other doctors, acupuncturists and healers might use them in their practices nearest you. I hope this has been helpful to you if you have also been seeking more information on these alternative practices. If you’d like to learn more about any of these concepts please feel free to reach out to me. I wish you continued peace and healing on your journey.
Dr. Tanvi Gandhi, ND, L.Ac. is a Licensed Acupuncturist in CT and NY, the founder of Shiva-Shakti Acupuncture and Ayurveda LLC, and the creator of Sri Wellness Space. She is passionate about empowering her patients with tools for self-healing, self-awareness and deep restoration through her group, community and corporate healing sessions, as well as educational and wellness workshops throughout Fairfield County, CT and the greater New York City areas. Dr. Tanvi practices at Barefoot Living Arts and Enjoy Community Wellness, is part of the Chronic Pelvic Pain group at Stamford Health, and serves as a board member of the LifeSaver’s Healing non-profit organization.